My name is Lynda Rubin and I’m here to talk about the importance of teacher experience and consistency versus the chaos caused by continual teacher turn-over especially from school closures. After 3 years of teaching, I became a counselor and moved to another school where I stayed for the next 38 years.
Making a career in one or two schools has been the norm by choice because we educators understand that making each school a community, a family even, facilitates good education and emotional stability for our students as well as for ourselves.
Children thrive when they feel secure. It is the most important thing for their development. Consistency and stability of important people in their lives, rules, and expectations are critical to their academic, social and emotional growth. Children do better when the world around them is normal and familiar. Having existing relationships with multiple adults over time grounds them, gives them a sense of place for themselves, room to grow and breathe, people to talk with when they make mistakes, who they’ll listen to, and who they know care about them because they have history with them. And this goes for their parents and relatives as well. Make no mistake that having an historical relationship with families gives us the leg up we need to get through to even the most distressed family AND support them with agencies, courts, health groups, etc. and throughout family tragedies, as well as everyday issues.
This is why so many children come back to visit teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians, principals, et al, years after they’ve left the school, to share with us their accomplishments and their trials. They’re disappointed if someone important to them is no longer there. And believe me, they do return. Many of my former students and families and I still keep in touch.
We educators also benefit from the consistency of knowing each other, developing working relationships, sharing ideas and the knowledge of both student needs and what’s worked and not worked over the years.
A recent study from the Learning Policy Institute validates what educators already know:
- That teacher experience raises students’ achievement
- That teachers are most effective when they work in a collegial environment
- And that all teachers thrive when newer ones collaborate with experienced ones.
Now maybe continually hiring young, inexperienced staffs who can rote teach pre-scripted lessons keeps costs down, but it does so at the expense of the educational and social-emotional benefit of children. Good, and great, teachers thrive when we’re supported with sufficient resources, because we understand how children develop and learn and how to adapt our approaches to the needs at hand, as well as being grounded in the curriculum.
Education is an art and a science. What it’s not is a cookie cutter factory.